Truth and Fiction in Afghanistan

Posted on October 7, 2010

Danny Schechter wrote When News Lies (2006) about media complicity and the war in Iraq. His film WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) covered that coverage.  He has an article at Al Jazeera (English) “When the Taliban calls, pick up” …  Is the limited coverage of the Afghan war in the US a symptom of life in an American “republic of fear”?

The situation is this, American Journalist, Schechcter, received a “friend” request on Facebook from a Taliban in the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” He pondered the pros and cons.  It was an invitation to gather information first hand from “the enemy;” it was also a fast-track way to land on multiple FBI watch and no fly lists.

Like many journalists on the front line, he sees many of the same flaws in the American character and position and expresses them in terms that would make the Taliban proud.  He is especially disparaging of US propaganda.  He thinks ours is slick; theirs is less so.  Danny, the reverse may be decidedly true.  Very sophisticated types produced and starred in that hideous hokey TV show in the 1970s, “Hee-Haw.” The Islamic enemy are brilliant in their strategizing and moves.  They have put an entire liberal press corps on the defensive and made foisting fear on the American public in concert with the government a good thing.

Question: what will ultimately save America:  Her “free” press, her government and its troops, or the innate intelligence of the people that press and government think are so malleable?  Right about now, America would be less splintered if it had strong leadership, not an opportunistic Congress and President.  When the people screamed “jobs,” Congress and the President gave them health care reform.  The economy got some stimulus money and some fiscal reform but basically is still headed for the skids.  The Fed is now thinking the unthinkable: encourage inflation to beat off deflation.

If Afghanistan seems on the back burner in the minds of the people, it has been encouraged by an Administration that placed it there and changed the focus of the people and channeled their energies and emotions elsewhere.  We’ve been had and it is just becoming apparent.  Americans know the bottom line:  Pay for a war, pay for new legislation that will need tax support and face many more months of unemployment and economic bad news.

We might be ripe for a dictator to just walk in and take over except that we pretty much already have that.  Had he been more competent and less self-absorbed it might have worked.  But the iron hand in the velvet glove is showing and all the kings horses and all the kings men can’t put a package that’s viable together by 2012 again.

We have not lost the war in Afghanistan.  In 2010 and in the preceding decades, it has been clear that wars are no longer winner take all.  Drones and misdeeds you say?  Iran makes their own.  Is that better?  Drones don’t kill as many innocents as carpet bombs and those have been outlawed.  9/11 is so indefensible that the Taliban and their kin are now floating stories that we did it to ourselves. Brilliant escape from the burden of  all the innocents killed on 9/11.  No, we just need to get better PR managers and off the defensive.  We need to fire the journalists who are so ready to believe enemy propaganda and their own over-developed conscience.

The Taliban are not winning on the ground in Afghanistan.  No one is.  Winding down will be a win-win situation for all sides if carefully played out.  We do need to leave.  The Taliban, who are into denying there are negotiations going on with the Afghan government will cooperate in the end because they can’t win either.

It will not be pretty as Fareed Zakaria has said but we do have to develop our exit strategy, ditch all of this self-flagellation and move on.  People here want their lives back and that starts with a good job and building back the economy of their everyday lives.  Contrary to press perception, Americans have learned to live with the idea that we could be hit again by terrorists.  But guess what, we are learning how to not only live with that war, we are studying enemy methods not just swatting at incoming.  American ingenuity is not dead and neither is American Resolve.  A tipping point will be reached that will end divisiveness in the civilian population in nano seconds.  Care to test that?

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